SA m-health startup Vula Mobile diversifies offering

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South African startup Vula Mobile, which connects general health workers in remote areas with specialists in hospitals, has diversified its offering having seen positive uptake of its service targeting eye health.

Vula Mobile, which was last year a winner at both the MTN Business App of the Year Awards and the African Entrepreneurship Award, allows health workers to capture basic patient information, take photographs, do a basic eye test and capture a brief medical history before sending it directly to a specialist.

They can ask for advice over a dedicated messaging platform, and decide on the best course of care for the patient. Eyeing what it describes as the “huge potential” of the global m-health market, the startup has now expanded its offering into other areas of health.

Vula Mobile services are now available in the areas of Orthopaedics, Dermatology, Cardiology, ENT, HIV, Family Medicine, and Burns, as well as the original Ophthalmology.

The Vula Mobile solution was developed by Dr William Mapham in 2011 in response to a problem he was facing at work in rural Swaziland. Mapham told Disrupt Africa the startup was still running on the prize money from the African Entrepreneur Awards, with obtaining funding difficult as the product is not yet making money.

Mapham said there was great potential for Vula Mobile in both the public and private sectors.

“Vula saves an average of 25 per cent of referrals to tertiary hospitals, resulting in cost and time savings,” he said.

“There is also potential for savings in the private sector. A contract there would then cross-subsidise our work in the public sector. We are in negotiations with a private sector company where this may work.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent’s most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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